Can Standardized Tests Tell Us What’s Working – And What’s Not – in Michigan Schools?

“We know our students are doing badly, but what is our state going to do about it?”

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

This week, the Michigan Department of Education released results from last year’s standardized test scores for Michigan students.

There’s good news and bad news.

The M-STEP exam results showed some gains in social studies and math scores. But fewer students were proficient in English language arts than last year. And students continue to struggle mightily with science. African American students saw the most significant declines in scores. 

“We know our students are doing badly, but what is our state going to do about it? What is our new superintendent (in Detroit) going to do about it?” says Chastity Pratt Dawsey, reporter with Bridge Magazine. “These are conversations that need to be had.”

“We can’t force districts to change and do things [to improve] unless they’re on the poor-performing list… but in a sense that’s too late,” says state Superintendent Brian Whiston on Detroit Today.

Whiston says there should be an “early warning” list on education performance, similar to a financial early warning list for cities and municipalities in Michigan. Whiston says he wants the Legislature and Governor Snyder to create that system for schools.

Another noteworthy aspect of the test scores were results from the SAT portion of the test. The top three performers were all schools using the International Baccalaureate curriculum; International Academy in Bloomfield, International Academy of Macomb County, and Washtenaw International High School. Some of the wealthiest districts in Michigan were not represented on the list.

You can see MDE’s test scores results here

To hear more from the conversation on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.


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